Simms, DeVincentis ready to start over

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— Two of Steamboat Springs School District's top administrators say they are ready to "start over."

Superintendent Cyndy Simms and Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal John DeVincentis said they both are looking forward to a new working relationship following a one-day mediation session last week in Denver.

"It feels very good," Simms said of the mediation results. "We're just very pleased."

"I am certainly looking forward to (the future)," DeVincentis said.

Simms and DeVincentis attended mediation Friday with Judicial Arbiter Group in an attempt to resolve their rocky working relationship.

The result of the all-day mediation is a written plan authored by the arbiter and agreed to by Simms and DeVincentis.

The plan is confidential, Simms said.

"We really agreed on Friday that we have to keep it confidential," she said. "It won't work otherwise."

Simms and DeVincentis prepared a statement for district staff.

"We just want to let you know that our mediation on Friday went well," the statement read. "We are at a 'starting over' point. We are very satisfied with the results. The proceedings are confidential, but we are very pleased. Thanks for your patience, consideration and support."

The conflict between Simms and DeVincentis flared up in June 2002, when DeVincentis received a poor performance evaluation from Simms. DeVincentis' pay-for-performance bonus and a salary increase were withheld because of the poor marks on his evaluation.

DeVincentis appealed the evaluation to the board, which eventually awarded DeVincentis his bonus and salary increase but refused to change the marks on his evaluation.

On Dec. 19, Simms and DeVincentis signed an agreement to "use Judicial Arbiter Group for mediation purposes and create a future long-term professional working relationship including effective communication."

At the Jan. 13 school board meeting, the board elected not to renew DeVincentis' contract. Instead, the board offered him a revised contract.

A clause in the revised contract mandated mediation for the two and made failure to perform mediation and follow the mediation plan grounds for DeVincentis' dismissal.

DeVincentis signed the contract at the board meeting.

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